There’s little doubt that managing the behaviour of children and young people is a concern of most trainee teachers.
When Sir Andrew Carter’s review of the quality of initial teacher training(ITT, more accurately described as ITE – Initial Teacher Education) was published back in January 2015, the then Secretary of State for Education asked for a task group, led by Stephen Munday, Chief Executive of the Comberton Academy Trust, to develop a framework of core content for ITT in England.
The Carter review found that while ITT is doing well in England, there is some variability. One of the gaps identified by the Carter review was in the area of behaviour management. This was addressed by a separate working group chaired by secondary teacher, Tom Bennett. The Behaviour Review can be found here.
The key recommendations
In brief, the key recommendations of the behaviour management review are as follows:
1. Opportunities to develop practical skills – through observation, practice and review in collaboration with coaches and mentors
2. Trainees should be given high quality tutors with appropriate experience
3. Training should be guaranteed and evidenced
4. The behaviour curriculum should cover 3 Rs – routines, responses and relationships
5. Pre-service training should offer low-stakes practice
6.Continuous and incremental instruction
Bennett is keen that these recommendations should be mandatory; “an entitlement for anyone intended to educate students professionally.” Managing the behaviour of others doesn’t come easily, he explains, and the necessary skills need to be improved “through the structured amalgamation of effort, reflection and practice.”
Training or learning on the job?
While many experienced teachers and lecturers would agree that you learn most about behaviour management by actually doing the job, meeting and developing working relationships with real students, and honing skills through experience and discussion with colleagues, the review emphasises the need for pre-service training, videoing lessons for reflection, and focusing on theory and research in the field of behaviour and memory among others.
It’s no surprise, then, that concerns have been raised at the pressures this will impose on ITT and the use this may be to trainees. Other concerns centre on whether it’s possible to be prescriptive about training on behaviour management while others have pointed out that the review is vague on detail and specifics. In addition, most teachers and lecturers, Bennett included, will have a particular approach to behaviour that isn’t shared by all. While much of what he says can be applied or adapted by most, there will be some with philosophical and practical objections to aspects of this guidance.
Finding a way forward
Regardless of your views, one thing is certain; we have to move on from the position that academics who are teachers in universities are distinctly different from practicing teachers in schools or lecturers in colleges. The creation of this divide has done nothing for cohesion and understanding in education and it continues to block progress. We also need to be honest about whether schools ought really to be doing much more to support the development of behaviour management skills in trainees in conjunction with higher education institutions.
Challenging behaviour in colleges has many causes and triggers and it will take far more than tweaks and improvements to ITT to solve them. But with that in mind, there is much that is commendable in the review, providing we acknowledge the clear need for wrap-around support for trainees, particularly from colleges while they are doing on the job training, that empowers rather than restricts.
This article was originally published on eTeach.
About the author
After graduating with a degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading, Elizabeth Holmes completed her PGCE at the Institute of Education, University of London. She then taught humanities and social sciences in schools in London, Oxfordshire and West Sussex, where she ran the history department in a challenging comprehensive. Elizabeth specialises in education but also writes on many other issues and themes. As well as her regular blogs for eTeach and FEjobs, her books have been published by a variety of publishers and translated around the world.